April 2018

New Perspectives on the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment

Teresa C. Fort, Justin R. Pierce, and Peter K. Schott


We use relatively unexplored dimensions of US microdata to examine how US manufacturing employment has evolved across industries, firms, establishments, and regions from 1977 to 2012. We show that these data provide support for both trade- and technology-based explanations of the overall decline of employment over this period, while also highlighting the difficulties of estimating an overall contribution for each mechanism. Toward that end, we discuss how further analysis of these trends might yield sharper insights.
Accessible materials (.zip)

Keywords: Employment, Manufacturing, Output, Technology, Trade

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2018.023

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: January 09, 2020